It’s been mostly quiet from Liverpool since Monday’s FA Cup loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers. We’re in the low pressure void which follows a defeat that has been laced with yet more defensive injury problems. And anxiety taints the air in the build up to Saturday’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Jürgen Klopp’s list of injury-free defenders is what has many Liverpool supporters concerned. It has shortened greatly since December. Joe Gomez and Joël Matip have been out of action for a month. Now, Dejan Lovren is looking at a lengthy period out with a hamstring injury when he really shouldn’t have been playing and it suddenly feels difficult to breathe through all this angst.
Before the Wolves match, Klopp even seemed happy to add to the tension by revealing that Virgil van Dijk was completely unavailable for that game due to some sort of minor issue.
“Virg cannot play,” said Klopp. “He is at home and hopefully it is nothing, but he has played all the games so far, so we had to try to find a solution for that.”
It was a cruel thing to say. Cannot play, how exactly? A centre-back partnership of Fabinho and James Milner isn’t going to cut it, Jürgen.
The loss of Van Dijk for any period of time could cause some real damage to Liverpool’s title ambitions. But the fog did lift a little bit on Merseyside because the Dutch centre-half completed a full training session on Wednesday. Thankfully, Van Dijk looks to be right as rain, fit and ready for Chris Hughton’s Brighton this weekend.
Having Virgil in the team is crucial to any make-shift partnership that Klopp employs. There should be a constantly yelling voice to marshal square pegs into position, hold the line, or communicate danger and Virgil consistently delivers on that front. He yelled at Jordan Henderson and Henderson is pretty much our yelling guy.
After Brighton, Matip is expected to make a return. Gomez is also on track to be available shortly after. In the meantime, we’ve just got to hold our breath until Saturday when Liverpool get passed Brighton and then we can let ourselves enjoy a bit of that injury-free breeze to follow. Until the air thickens up with the next crisis, of course.